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UER Forum > Journal Index > Slim Jim's mission logs > Convent, school, well, nettles and mosquitoes, mine, and giant coke plant (Viewed 2692 times)
Convent, school, well, nettles and mosquitoes, mine, and giant coke plant
entry by Slim Jim 
7/22/2004 12:45 AM

I'm finally getting around to writing the trip reports from the last 2 weekends. Too much going on. Would rather be out exploring than writing trip logs. Not sure how long this journal thing will last, but it's fun to share at least some of my explorations, so I'll try to keep it up.

2 weekends ago, I went a few hours out and explored several buildings in a nearby town, let's call it A-town, a mine in B-town, and then a giant coke refinery in Big City. Please excuse the generic names, since this is a public forum I didn't want to post too many details. Really, there's only one of the locations I visited that I'd like to conceal the locale of, but it's hard to do that without being sketchy with the rest. Anyway...

I've driven past A-town many times on the way to Big City, but have never really stopped there to explore. That is, until Emma showed up on the forums with stories of visiting numerous interesting abandoned places in town. That Friday night, I met her, and we went across town to attempt to visit a couple decent-sized places that she hadn't been to yet.

I had been through this part of A-town scouting out abandoments some time ago, and had a few places in mind. The first building we stopped at looked abandoned, but a walk around the perimeter convinced us that it was secure, and in use as storage. We headed up the hill to a convent that I had found earlier, but looked secure. After a brief climb over a fence and through the woods, fighting brambles and thorns, we arrived at the site. The building itself proved to be secure, but a door to a nearby outbuilding was ajar, so we wandered in. In the basement, as I was half-expecting, we found a low tunnel which led toward the main building. A crawl tunnel half-filled with cobwebs led off in two directions around the perimeter of the building. We followed it until we were directly under the front door, where we found a small door leading up to the first floor. A quick push, and we found out that it had been chained from the other side. They had foreseen that we, or at least somebody, would try to sneak in this way! We followed the tunnel most of the way around the building, and finally found another way inside.

The building was shaped like a T, with three floors of rooms in the main leg and a chapel with balcony, and rec room below it, in the short leg. I won't go into much detail here, because the place was practically empty and cleaned out, except for one corner with a few relics. We didn't take many pictures, because the flash through the windows might alert people to our presence. Just after I took a picture of Emma next to the door to the chapel, complete with cross-shaped window, we heard a loud noise. It was somebody tugging on the heavy front door, which was locked. We ran, and disappeared back into the tunnel. On the way out through the woods, we saw and heard nothing, so it was probably just some curious people like ourselves. Thinking back on it, we should've peeked out and seen who it was, and perhaps even let them inside. But you don't think of those things at the time...better safe than sorry.

We continued down the street to an abandoned school, which from Emma's and my scouting trips, I had very low hopes of getting in. But hopes proved us wrong, and we found a board which could be moved aside. After climbing up a board and carefully through the window, I jumped down, and motioned for Emma to follow. My hands were bleeding, but they didn't hurt. Strange. Emma climbed in without injury, and we proceeded to explore the place.

The school had 4 or 5 floors, including the basement. The first place we found was the 2-story gymnasium, in the center of the bottom two floors and accessible by both. Spiral stairs led up to the banked track. We wandered around the maze of rooms in the basement for a while, finding some old artifacts and an assortment of different-sized fuses. The typical things you find in an abandoned basement. Then we went upstairs, and wandered around different parts of various floors, finally ending up on the roof, which afforded a great view of downtown A-town.

We climbed in a window on the opposite side of the roof, and found a room filled with file cabinets. Many of them contained employee evaluation reports, from when the building was home to an engineering consulting firm, after it was closed as a school. They made for interesting reading.

Heading out into the hall, we were startled by the appearance of a group of my favorite retarded animal - the pigeon. Pigeons everywhere, I even thought I got pooped on once but it turned out to be a piece of dry white stuff, probably a paint flake off the ceiling. I even managed to catch a pigeon and get my picture taken with it.

After that, we slowly made our way out, discovering and then passing through the auditorium, directly above the gymnasium. We found a door that opened from inside, sparing us the difficulty of climbing back out through the un-boarded window. At least half of the rooms are as yet unexplored.

The next morning, I headed over to B-Town, met Leko for lunch, and met Apkah and Brad at a park near the first site we were planning to visit, a shaft in the middle of a former industrial site which led down about 60 feet. This shaft had been discovered by Apkah, and I had brought rapelling gear to get to the bottom of the issue of what was at the bottom of that shaft. I set up the gear and rapelled to the bottom with no problem. It was cool down there, nice to get out of the hot, sunny outdoor weather. But the shaft went nowhere NOWHERE! Although it was cool, there were no side tunnels, as I had hoped for. One ladder went down to a well, and the pipes that led to the bottom of the shaft didn't go anywhere. Oh well. I ascended back up, and we left.

It was mid-afternoon when we arrived at the local underground limestone quarries. These quarries are in the middle of a flat region full of cornfields, and I had passed only a handful of miles from them numerous times on my way to explore in Big City without a clue of their existence. Then, one day, I was reading a book on mining, and found reference to them. On my way back from Crazy Confusing Hilly City one day, which is about 8 hours beyond Big City, I briefly stopped at the location the book described. Lo and behold, there was a hole in the ground. And another. And another! I was jumping up and down, excited to see how extensive these holes were, but due to time constraints, I only looked around briefly but then left and put this on the to-explore list. Now, we were back, to explore this place in detail and depth.

There was a bit of confusion on the way in, caused by the lack of a trail close to the mines. We knew exactly where they were, but didn't know the best way of getting there. I ended up wandering around semi-aimlessly, getting stung by numerous nettles, while the rest of the group took a more direct path. Finally, we found a cold nook which had to be an entrance. But it wasn't. It was caved in. Climbing uphill, we did find an entrance. Once inside, I flopped down on the ground and lay motionless. We had carried rapelling equipment all the way to the mine, and it was a long hike. The mine had two levels, and I was hoping to find a way to rappel down to the lower level from the upper, because the only exterior entrance to the lower level that I knew of was securely gated. The previous time, when I briefly poked around in the mine, I had stumbled upon a shaft covered up with a grate. At that time, I had no rappelling experience, so I didn't even think to lift up the grate to see if it was movable. This time, I was ready to rappel down it, if it was movable. But luck was not with us, as we wandered around in the upper level for about 2 hours, passing over most passages at least twice, and never spotting the darn thing. The upper level was at most 1/4 mile from end to end, much smaller than I had anticipated and hoped for. I figured the lower level had to be larger.

We found the gate to the lower level without incident, and despite the gate being secure, Brad and I did manage to make it inside. Possibly via a different route. While Leko and Apkah waited patiently outside, Brad and I scouted out the lower level briefly, and in less than 10 minutes, went around half the perimeter of the lower level, and found the bottom of that evasive shaft! It was grated, but you could see emptiness and the ceiling above it, so it had to be up there. Somewhere. Can't believe I found it right away when I wasn't looking for it, and then searched for 2 hours with no sign of it when we were looking for it. Random bad luck, I guess.

We went back to the gate to report our findings, bid adieu to Apkah and Leko, and followed the rest of the perimeter of the lower level. Disappointingly, it wasn't even as large as the upper level. It was shaped like a hand with too many fingers, radiating out from the gate. Then we headed back to the cars, I ate a meal at a Chinese buffet, and went to sleep.

The next morning, I headed into Big City, and looked for some brewery caves which were rumored to lie along a local river. Big City was flat, and the area near the river was very low, so I wasn't expecting to find anything, and I didn't. There's a chance that they were there, tucked away in the underbrush, but given the lay of the land, it seems highly unlikely. I drove off, and headed over to meet a couple of locals, Mr. Yuk and NV. We headed over to a giant abandoned coke refinery, walked around and in the back, and proceeded to explore and photograph the place. I was vastly impressed - it was HUGE. And Mr. Yuk had assured me that there wasn't much to see here!

The complex was comprised of several one- or two-story brick buildings, most of which were in a row, a 6 to 8-story complex of 3 towers and enclosed walkways with conveyors next to them going up and down at angles between the towers, and one giant tower about 10-15 stories off the ground, with a long ledge and train tracks running away from it for quite a ways in either direction about a dozen feet off the ground. That's the simplified description of the place. You'd have to be there to truly appreciate how large - and how tall - it really was. From afar, it didn't look all that big, partially because it was surrounded by open fields on 3 sides, with nothing to compare the scale to.

We started out by exploring the complex of rooms below this tower, and soon climbed up the external staircase to the top of it. A few pictures form the roof, and we headed down one long enclosed conveyorwalk which led to the top of the smaller tower complex, less than half as high as the big tower. We headed downstairs here. NV and Mr. Yuk headed over to the brick buildings, while I continued wandering up and down the stairs and conveyorwalks. When I left the buildings, my hands were entirely black, covered in coal dust.

After a brief exploration of the brick buildings, which were mostly offices and various shops, we left the place. It was an uneventful trip - in that nobody got hurt, and nobody was sighted on the premises - but a very fulfilling exploration to a great site. In the near future, this site may become a museum, or possibly be demolished. Let's hope it's not the latter.


[last edit 7/22/2004 1:34 AM by Slim Jim - edited 1 times]
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Macsbug 

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Re: Convent, school, well, nettles and mosquitoes, mine, and giant coke plant
< Reply # 1 on 7/22/2004 2:49 AM >
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Good stuff Jim. I've got a question about limestone quarries - I was at a state park a little further north, which had some historic limestone quarries, or some such stuff, all I saw there were a couple of buildings (or shells of them) where they processed/stored the blocks, but no mine. I expected to see a big hole in the ground - like a strip mine (right?), but didn't see anything, which would mean to me that it was filled, or underground, is that correct reasoning?

I figured it would just be aboveground, is there a good reason why these are below ground? - if I hear or research about a quarry somewhere, should I assume it is underground, and cool/dangerous, or just a hole in the ground?

/long post for short question
Thanks




"Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it."
Slim Jim 

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Location: St. Paul, MN
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Maze is 100% done now!!! Someday when it's -10 out and the generators won't start I might upload th

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Re: Convent, school, well, nettles and mosquitoes, mine, and giant coke plant
< Reply # 2 on 7/22/2004 2:55 AM >
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Short answer to a long question: Typically, it depends on whether said quarry is in the US or France. If it's in France, or Kansas City, 95% of the time it'll be underground. If it's in the US, 99% of the time it'll be above ground, and will be (technically incorrectly) referred to as a "mine" if it's underground. The quarry you visited was almost certainly just above ground. Was that the one in Sandstone? If it was, if you walk north of the parking lot you'll see a tall pole...maybe 80' tall or so, that MacGyver and Tourettes both climbed to the top of. It's held up by cables extended from the walls of the quarry.




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Macsbug 

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Re: Convent, school, well, nettles and mosquitoes, mine, and giant coke plant
< Reply # 3 on 7/22/2004 6:15 AM >
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Ok, thats what I wanted to know, thanks. I don't think it was in Sandstone, but I wasn't paying to much attention. A little north of Hinkley, not far off of 35.

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"Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it."
UER Forum > Journal Index > Slim Jim's mission logs > Convent, school, well, nettles and mosquitoes, mine, and giant coke plant (Viewed 2692 times)


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